The Edge of Ruin


In the early days of film production, competition between movie companies often resembled gang warfare; with every new start-up ruthlessly harassed by Thomas Edison’s hired enforcers, the silent movie industry was dangerous business. In 1909 another entrepreneur joins the fray: Adam Weiss sells everything he owns and drags his bemused new wife Emily along to start up a production company. At first thinking her husband has lost his marbles, Emily quickly discovers she loves the movie business, and together they assemble a crew to begin their first film. The group evades Edison’s detectives a few times and are feeling rather smug—but then one of those detectives is murdered on set, and Adam is arrested for the crime. Now Emily has some very big problems: she must find the killer and exonerate her husband; she must evade the dead man’s vengeful cronies; and most of all, she must keep those cameras rolling.

Filled with period details that don’t smother the prose, and with few historical quibbles (one being the use of “Red Menace” before WWI), The Edge of Ruin is a short novel that’s as zippy and clever as its heroine, racing along with sharp writing and plenty of humor. Emily is a smart, likeable character, capable and creative; Adam is not so sympathetic, but the story belongs to Emily. An ensemble of colorful supporting characters and an energetic pace make for a satisfying mystery read. Recommended – except maybe to fans of Thomas Edison.

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12 of the best stories selected from the 2012 Historical Novel Society Short Story Award







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